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10 Steps To Take Brainstorming From Good To Wicked Good

Sand for Your Inbox
July 2011

How many brainstorming sessions, filled with potentially brilliant ideas, have ended up as rolled up flip charts under someone’s desk?

Taking ideas to the next step post-brainstorming can be a challenge. When I get near the end of the brainstorming process, I use a simple filtering process that moves ideas from concept to near-ready to implement.

Here’s how it works…

Step 1: When you’ve finished with the brainstorming stage, put all of your ideas on sticky notes or individual pieces of paper. (Something that allows them to be easily repositioned). Have them all stuck, off to the side, on a wall.

Step 2: Next, determine what qualifiers you (want, need, will use) to filter these ideas and a range. (You may want to have these filters in mind ahead of time, or ask the group to develop them).

Filters and their ranges could include:

  • (filter) Ease of Implementation (range)easy” -to- “hard”
  • Investment – “cheap” -to- “expensive’
  • ROI – “low” -to- “high”
  • The Brand – “builds the brand” -to- “draws from the brand”
  • Time to Market – “implement quickly” -to- “takes a while”

Of course, you’ll have other filters that are important to your company…

Step 3: Create a large grid on a big wall. (Blue painter’s tape works well as it doesn’ mess up paint. Be sure to test it first!)

Step 4: Label the grid using two of your most important filters and the range. (I’ll use ROI and Ease of Implementation for our example).

Step 5: Have the team move and classify the ideas into their proper range within the categories.

Step 6: Now you’ll have a ‘picture’ of which ideas (in this example) will drive the most sales and are the easiest to implement. Items in the upper-right are the best ideas on this chart.

Step 7: More than likely, you need to consider a third or fourth filter. For me, I want to consider ideas that:

  1. “are easy for the customer,” and
  2. “have a positive impact on the brand.”

To accomplish this, we are going to focus on and refine the best ideas in the upper-right section with these additional filters.

Step 8: Grab a few volunteers and have them remove the items that fit the next filter. I’m using “ideas that don’ strengthen the brand.” Have them move them outside of the box.

Step 9: Next (and we’re almost done), have a few different volunteers remove from the box the ideas that don’ fit your next main filter. For me, it’s ideas that “require effort on behalf of the customer.” (If this idea requires the customer to jump through hoops, it’s not a good one).

Step 10: Finally, examine what’s left in that box and you’ve got the ideas that…

  • have a high ROI,
  • are easier to implement,
  • are easy on the customer, and
  • build the brand.

These ideas are ready to be championed and tested.

Instead of ending your brainstorming with simply a bunch of potentially good ideas… you’ve taken action steps and are on path to execution. You’ve turned a good use of time into a wicked good use of time.

Thanks again for your interest in Idea Sandbox! Let me know if you find this information helpful. And, please let me know what questions you have!

Best,
Paul's Name

Paul
brainstormer, Idea Sandbox
Twitter:@IdeaSandbox

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